49ers report card
QUARTERBACKS: A rejuvenated Jeff Garcia was terrific, particularly considering that playing conditions weren't exactly conducive to the passing game. Garcia was on the money with practically each of his throws, completing 26 of 33 for a season-high 344 yards. He also displayed the ability to go long that wasn't there earlier this year, connecting on touchdown throws of 58 and 41 yards. And he created havoc with his feet with a season-high 51 yards and a touchdown rushing. A tremendous performance that should have been enough for a victory. Grade: A RUNNING BACKS: Kevan Barlow again displayed aggressive, breakaway ability with 85 yards rushing and 66 receiving. But his big gains were negated by two fumbles deep inside Cincinnati territory, miscues that probably cost the 49ers the game. He also failed to pick up a blitzing cornerback that led to the only sack of Garcia and another fumble - and a Cincinnati touchdown. Jamal Robertson had 33 yards rushing on just four carries, but he dropped two passes. The bad outweighed the good here because it had such a killer consequence on the game. Grade: D+ WIDE RECEIVERS: A very productive day here, and Terrell Owens made a nice move to get into the end zone on his 58-yard scoring reception. Starters Owens and Tai Streets combined for 14 receptions for 216 yards, but they also combined to drop three passes. Cedrick Wilson contributed receptions of 20 and 10 yards. Grade: B TIGHT ENDS: Jed Weaver had two catches for 27 yards, but there were some missed blocks by the tight ends in the running game. It was not a bad effort, though. Grade: C+ OFFENSIVE LINE: Opened some nice holes for the run game and did a good job protecting Garcia in sloppy conditions. With its five regular starters in the lineup, the line played with the kind of strength and cohesion the Niners can only wish they'd had here on a more consistent basis this season. Grade: A- DEFENSIVE LINE: Unit played hard but got pulverized up front, allowing the Bengals to rumble for 225 yards on the ground, including a career-high 174 by Rudi Johnson, who got through the line without being impeded way too many times. Pass rush provided some good heat at times, but it wasn't nearly consistent enough. Grade: D LINEBACKERS: Derek Smith had 12 tackles and was in on a sack. Jeff Ulbrich and Julian Peterson each had seven tackles, but there was some sloppy, inconsistent play to go along with those numbers. Grade: C SECONDARY: San Francisco defensive backs made very few plays on the ball and did little to thwart Cincinnati's passing game. Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick combined for 11 receptions for 149 yards and each found his way free to break loose for touchdown passes and big gains. Safety Zack Bronson looked terrible several times in run support, taking bad angles that allowed the Bengals to scoot for extra yardage - or the end zone. Grade: D SPECIAL TEAMS: Nothing much to hurt the Niners here. Nothing much to help them, either. Wilson ran hard on his kickoff returns and Todd Peterson made a 23-yard field goal. Bill LaFleur punted only once and the coverage units were adequate: Grade: C COACHING: The Niners say they tried everything to stop the Bengals in the second half. Everything wasn't enough. Once again, preparation on the road was an issue as the Niners fell behind quickly, but turnovers were the direct cause of that. It's difficult to fault an offensive game plan that produces 502 yards and is held back only by three turnovers. It's easy to fault a defensive game plan that allows 393 yards - the most allowed by the Niners this season. Grade: C- OVERALL: Considering the way this season has gone, this seemed like an appropriate way for the Niners' playoff hopes to officially come to an end. When this San Francisco team isn't good enough to win on an afternoon it scores 38 points, it officially has been a bad afternoon - and a bad season - for the 49ers. Grade: D
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